As of 2017 and an estimated 38.9% of Zimbabwe’s population is under the age of 15. This is a really big part of the market, in spite of the lack of their own incomes to spend this demographic commands large resources. There’s a host of business ideas that can harness the potential of this market and in this article, we will run through 10 areas that businesses can be built to address their needs. It’s important to note that this article will not be focused on infants.
First and foremost are education opportunities for children and these come in various forms. There was a time when computer education for children was the hot thing as people realised computers were the future. Whatever the hot thing of tomorrow is there are business opportunities to be exploited by providing it. Schools are no longer what they used to be, with no offence to those in education, it is rather the curriculum and methods that are lagging behind. And while we may want to pardon this lack, the world will not. Every parent wants a child who is at least competent in a competitive world. This may focus on particular areas like computers and technology or specific subjects such as mathematics. The options are many. The key is to provide quality service.
Similar to education but with a slightly different focus is skills coaching or training. There are obvious ideas such as coaching children in sports or other activities they have interests in. While the importance of that cannot be underestimated there is also the teaching of life skills. Swimming is an easy example of such a skill that can save more than one life if taught to a child. Other skills such as cooking, handy work around the home and basic electronics may also be useful. Different skills gaps can be identified at different ages.
Toys and gifts
This would probably be the first port of call for many. Children learn through entertainment and toys are a big part of the learning process. It’s been found that it is much easier to teach skills and ideas to children through socializing the ideas and breaking them down to practical situations their minds can comprehend. Keeping them entertained in the process is a bonus. The struggle here for parents is finding age-appropriate toys that ensure the child is learning the things they should be. This is not to say that lessons can only be learned at certain ages but that progression must be a regular feature in a child’s skill set.
Modern households are characterized by many single-parent homes or homes with both parents working. Children need time and attention and while solutions like having a relative available or full-time carer work they may not always be viable. Especially in the light the economic trouble in Zimbabwe. Offering a viable solution that provides child care services makes for a great business under such circumstances. This can be offered in an annexure to an existing school or stand alone. The primary concern with children is their safety. A good solution, in this case, would offer the safety of the child and time management advantages to parents and guardians.
Transport and logistics
Little people also need to get around. If they have to go between school, home, coaching and activities they will take up a lot of time to transport them around. This is not always viable so offering transport and logistics services targeted at them is another lucrative area. It’s also a game of trust and convenience. These are the two keys to success in this business.
Clothing and merchandise
Clothing for minors is a huge industry in itself. The fact that these age groups are heavily influenced by popular culture makes it such that they have rather specific tastes. This extends to merchandise to include branded accessories and even household items. Bags, bed sets, umbrellas, and many other accessories that are branded with their favourite characters or symbols are a hit with children and those responsible for paying for them.
Children eat. Perhaps not a lot but they do have specific tastes. Snacks have always been big business. With the trend towards healthy food it only makes sense that healthy snacks should follow. Simple ideas like dried fruit aimed at children could be quite a hit with the right push. The same idea could be applied to beverages. This is not to say that traditional snacks are out of the window as business ideas. New takes on existing ideas can be a hit too.
Special needs and small children
There are children who for various reasons have special needs. This could be due to disability, learning challenges or disorders. Their needs may not be mainstream but they are genuine needs which the families need help and support with providing. A simple example may be sign language training for a family with a child with hearing challenges. I will also mention one case of an infant related product that caught my interest; a leash for a pacifier. If you’ve had an infant on a pacifier you will recall the feelings of horror as they start to explore and keep dropping their pacifier. A simple device that clips the pacifier to the clothes like a lanyard prevents them from dropping it. Sounds like a hit to me.
Technology and gadgets
Long ago children used to be given toy phones and other gadgets. These were simple replicas that made sounds and mimicked the real articles. Today’s lot are not satisfied with replicas and want the real thing. It’s quite fascinating to watch them navigate apps and operating systems before they can even read. As such repurposing older technology, say a refurbished 4 or 5-year-old phone or tablet will give them an opportunity to interact with the real object. Advantage being they come at prices that are relatively cheaper because the technology has aged. There’s also the great opportunity that Chinese manufacturing has created in this space. The Chinese are producing these devices thick and fast. You can easily find a decent 7-inch tablet for under well under US$100, excluding shipping and duties of course. That’s where you could come in and provide a bridge to access such devices for parents.
Parties and entertainment
Everybody loves a celebration, kids more so. Parties and entertainment are a really wide market to look at. You could provide a party play venue. Ideas such as a party garden, water park and activities such as paintball come to mind. You could provide party planning services with character themed parties and dress up games. As mentioned before the key with children is safety and convenience if you can provide a play place that provides those two together you may have a smash hit business on your hands.
When dealing with businesses that target children it’s important to note that your consumer is rarely ever your customer; the user is not the one that pays. You need to provide a service that appeals to both parties. If you’re going into child education ideas remember the child’s happiness is just as important as the parent’s happiness. When children are highly motivated about something they make great lobbyists. Always consider the problem to be solved; if it exists and how much people value the solution.